The 2018 Copa Libertadores final will go down in history, but for all the wrong reasons after the debacle that has unfolded surrounding rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate.

By 90Min
November 27, 2018

The 2018 Copa Libertadores final was supposed to be a spectacle of immeasurable magnitude. 

For the first time in the competition's rich history, Buenos Aires rivals Boca Juniors and River Plate were set to face off in the final - the pinnacle of South American football. After a spectacular 2-2 draw in the first leg at La Bombonera, the scene was set for a era-defining second leg on Saturday.

But the match has yet to see the light of day.

The game was initially delayed and later postponed after the coach carrying the Boca players to River's Estadio Monumental was attacked. The windows to the coach were smashed and the players felt the effects of the tear gas the police had been using to control the crowds gathering outside the stadium. Boca's midfielder Pablo Perez even had to visit hospital with an eye injury.

The blame game for Saturday's horror show has already begun but, in truth, all parties involved have to take some responsibility for the way events unfolded.

In Argentina, what constitutes as passion extends well beyond what is even conceivable in European football. Violence is not only embedded into the footballing culture in Argentina, but it is practically normalized. In the past year alone six people have died in football-related-violence.

CONMEBOL, the South American confederation, publicly condemned Saturday's events, with president Alejandro Dominguez claiming: "We can have passion, live crazy for our teams, but we will not allow violence.”

When something is so ingrained into society, removing it entirely, as Dominguez is suggesting, is out of the question, despite what he may choose to believe. It is therefore up to the relevant governing bodies to combat it and ensure that it has little to no bearing on the match itself.

Not only did CONMEBOL fail to prepare for Saturday accordingly, but the ensuing reaction to the events unfolding suggest that it either didn't fully grasp, or it chose to ignore, the sheer gravitas of the situation.

If Boca players Carlos Tevez and Fernando Gago are to be believed, CONMEBOL put pressure on Boca to play, regardless of whether they were even physically capable of doing so, which is utterly outrageous. 

This, combined with the fact that it took an entire day's worth of waiting for a decision to even be reached regarding the official postponement of the match suggests that CONMEBOL was simply making things up as it went along. 

It is also unclear as to why River fans were allowed to flood back into the Monumental on Sunday, when there was almost no chance that they were going to be able to watch their side play. All of this falls on CONMEBOL, irrespective of how poorly the supporters behaved.

As it stands, it looks as if the final is going to be rescheduled for December 8 or 9 and, instead of being played in Argentina, the final will be hosted elsewhere.

However, Boca has asked CONMEBOL to cancel the final and award the title to them, seemingly in response to what happened in 2015 when Boca was disqualified from the tournament after River players were attacked with pepper spray in the tunnel during a game at Boca's stadium.

When the dust finally settles, one thing is for sure: the 2018 Copa Libertadores final will go down in history, but for all the wrong reasons.

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